HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – A Loris school has the lowest square footage per student among Horry County schools, according to data from the district and the state department of education.
Daisy Elementary School in Loris, with 38,500 square feet and 575 students, has the least, with a rate of about 66.72 square feet. It’s followed by St. James Elementary School, Green Sea Floyds Elementary School, Forestbrook Middle School and Aynor Elementary School.
The school with the highest square footage per student is Green Sea Floyds High School, which has 202,293 square feet for about 680 students, coming down to about 296.67 square feet per student. It’s followed by Loris High School, Socastee Middle School, Aynor High School and Kingston Elementary School.
About half of the district’s schools have 158.75 square feet per student or more.
The district uses a pupil-to-teacher ratio for grade levels to decide staffing, which can vary depending on different factors, according to the information given to News13 from Lisa Bourcier, a spokeswoman for the district.
“The capacity of each classroom is therefore based on this pupil/teacher ratio calculated with the general education spaces for each grade, and not on the square footage of the room or the building,” Bourcier said in an email.
Support spaces – like music or band rooms, art rooms and special education areas – are considered secondary, pull-out spaces, which aren’t included in a building’s capacity.
“All things being equal, the only effective measure of capacity in a building is the pupil/teacher ratio calculated with the number of general education classrooms,” Bourcier said.
Fifteen elementary schools, seven middle schools and three high schools are on the district’s list for Red Zone schools, meaning they have reached 95% or more of their designed capacity and are projected to be high-growth schools. Those schools aren’t accepting any out-of-area transfer requests for the 2021-22 academic year.
Of those 25 schools, all but eight are in the bottom half for the most square footage per student.
Half of the district’s schools are at or near capacity, and it’s expected to gain another 600 to 800 students a year – about enough to fill an elementary school. The majority of that growth is centered in the Carolina Forest, Conway, Socastee and St. James areas.
Horry County Schools anticipates it’ll need two new elementary schools in the Carolina Forest area within the next decade, which will be used to help ease populations at River Oaks Elementary School, Carolina Forest Elementary School and Ocean Bay Elementary School.
Funding for the projects could come from a local option sales tax, also known as a penny sales tax. The plan was approved by voters in 2008 and is scheduled to run out in 2024, unless voters decide to renew the initiative next year.
Crowding has Joi Smith, who has had two children in Carolina Forest-area schools, concerned. Her oldest, who is immunocompromised, attends Carolina Forest High School and has been withdrawn from schools for months at a time when the flu has spread.
“She’s doing ok at Carolina Forest High School,” Smith said. “Her class sizes don’t seem too crazy yet.”
Having multiple buildings on the campus, she said, also helps ease her mind, especially during the pandemic.
Her youngest attended River Oaks Elementary School and now attends a private school to help her with her autism needs. Large student populations, Smith said, can easily overwhelm her daughter.
“She can get overstimulated easily,” Smith said.
Her youngest will sometimes leave the classroom, and can get into things if she’s not watched. At River Oaks, she said, students are “practically sitting on each other.”
“It was crazy, the hallways,” Smith said. “There were traffic jams.”
Use the database below to compare information on size and populations of Horry County schools